Clinton on Al Qaeda

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The weekend's hottest interview saw Chris Wallace interviewing Bill Clinton on Fox News Channel and asking whether the former president, 'Did you do enough to connect the dots and go after Al Qaida?"

Clinton's angry reply:

"That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now," Clinton said in the interview. "They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try."…
Clinton said he "worked hard" to try to kill bin Laden.

"We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody's gotten since," he said.

He told Wallace, "And you got that little smirk on your face and you think you're so clever, but I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try and I did everything I thought I responsibly could."

More here.

Clinton wags fingers at Wallace here.
Whole interview here.

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  1. I have to admit, I’d have a little more confidence in WJC’s answer if he wasn’t so obviously in “permanent campaign” mode.

  2. In poker the Clinton finger wag would be called a tell. As soon as he starts, you can pretty much assume that what you are hearing is complete BS.

  3. If he’s making believe he’s mad, he’s making believe. I wonder if he has to practice this stuff, or if he just improvises. “I did not have sexual …” Or maybe he did. Who know? You just know you can’t take his word for it, whatever “it” is. Or even what “is” is.

  4. Republicans were dealing with important things like deals that Clinton made in the 70s. One thing at a time baby!

    note to self: play poker with Stephen ASAP.

  5. I haven’t seen a beating like that since Kill Bill Volume 2.

    BTW, a number of bloggers have gone through the records, and the answer to the question “Did you ever ask (anyone from the Bush administration) about the Cole?” is “No, not a single time.”

  6. Joe,

    The Cole happened under Clinton’s watch. Jonah Goldberg put up about 1000 lines of press reports from the late 90s showing one Republican Clinton hater after another supporting Clinton on bombing the Sudan, Operations Desert Fox (supported by both Clinton and Gore’s claim that Saddam had WMDs) and Kosovo. The idea that Republicans didn’t support Clinton didn’t support Clinton in his efforts to combat terrorism is just true.

    That said, I think Clinton deserves a break on this issue. Prior to 9-11, there is no way that the public would have supported a long effort to go after the sponsors of terrorism. In an ideal world, the U.S. would have taken out the Taliban in the late 90s and Bin Laden would have been hiding in a cave on 9-11 rather than celebrating the attack. But, let’s be realistic, the American people would have never supported an attack on Afghanistan or the Sudan or any real sustained effort to get Bin Laden and Al Queada. The whole country lived in a state of superficial denial of the threat in the 1990s and that is not Clinton’s fault. Yeah, he was the living embodiment of that superficial denial, but even if he hadn’t been and tried to convince the American people of the danger they faced, he would have been a Cassandra. Clinton would be better off and just admit that he made mistakes like everyone does but that the problems were ran a whole lot deeper than his administration.

  7. In our post 911 times, it’s hard to remember that before then, almost no one was paying serious attention to the threats from various terrorist organizations. It was not a Pres. campaign issue for Bush or Gore, Clinton was not pressing it, but almost no one else was either (Bush campaigned against “nation building”).

    Of course, Clinton was, after all, the President, and he should have been pressing the issue. He didn’t. Would others have? We’ll never know. In retrospect, I think he regrets not taking more action. In usual Clinton fashion, he’s out there trying to “fix” his “legacy.”

  8. Clinton would be better off and just admit that he made mistakes like everyone does but that the problems were ran a whole lot deeper than his administration.

    Isn’t that pretty much what he does in the interview.

  9. One thing. Is Clinton really tall or is Wallace really short? He looks like an Irish Leprachaun next to old bill.

  10. Mark VIII,

    He does say that in some ways, but he would look a lot better if he were take some responsibilty and not get angry. Mike Wallace is that short. I think Clinton is about 5’9″ or so and Wallace is just one of the wee people.

  11. John,

    RTFA. It happened at the end of Clinton’s watch, and confirmation of Al Qaeda’s involvement didn’t come about until Bush’s term had already begun. It’s good that some Republicans actually set aside their hosility to Clinton temporarily when he tried to go after Al Qaeda, but don’t bullshit me. I lived through the 1990s, and I heard the “wag the dog” charges comimg from prominent Republicans like Tom Delay. You still see righties making that claim on these threads.

    “Yeah, he was the living embodiment of that superficial denial,” Uh, no. He was the one who first ordered the intelligence community to got to war against Al Qaeda, authorized the creation of units devoted to tracking him down and killing him, launched the first military assault against Al Qaeda, he told the incoming administration that bin Laden would be the biggest issue they had to deal with, and he handed them a global anti-terror strategy that he’d had the NSC draw up.

    There were certainly problems with Clinton’s response to terrorism, but not taking the problem seriously is not among them. He certainly did more on the issue than Bush during the first nine months of his presidency.

  12. “…Operations Desert Fox (supported by both Clinton and Gore’s claim that Saddam had WMDs)…”

    Saddam did have WMDs at that time. The remaining program was destroyed in the aftermath of that operation, in order to avoid more such attacks.

  13. I think this is more a rant against the Fox network than the Republicans.

  14. I’m no Clinton fan, but I’m not going to blame him for 9/11, either. Virtually everyone was caught by surprise, because few of us believed that such an attack would ever be carried out on American soil. Also, you can spin this nine ways till Sunday, but it was also a profoundly foolish move by al Qaeda. They were operating with the world’s superpower exerting minimal effort against them. Now they’re being fought with much more effort, and two Middle Eastern nations have fallen. It was a stupid move, and that made it all the more unpredictable. Looking back, maybe the Clinton administration should’ve been more aggressive in dealing with terror threats, but that’s hindsight.

    In any event, pointing fingers is a useless exercise. Even if this is all Bill Clinton’s fault, that doesn’t help us going forward. I personally think that if we’d had a Democratic president during and after 9/11, much the same thing would’ve happened. The nation-building theory is not uniquely Republican, and the temptation to invade Iraq (or other Middle Eastern nation of your choice) would’ve still been there as would the domestic political pressure to do something. I just don’t buy the meme that GOPers are all foreign policy cowboys and Democrats are all limp-wristed internationalists. Heck, Old Man Bush did a better job of coalition building than Clinton ever did–remember Gulf War I?

    By the way, blaming Bush for 9/11 is even crazier. In the eight months his people were in office, maybe, just maybe, they figured out where the secret tunnel was between the OEOB and the White House. Maybe. Presidents rarely come into office and drop bombs the next week. Al Qaeda and our other enemies are an American problem, not a political one (domestically speaking, that is) nor one that we can lay at the feet of a particular person or political party. That goes for Iraq, too. If the Administration was over eager to attack Iraq, don’t you think the animus felt by most Americans against the Middle East had a wee bit to do with that? I’m so sick of all this partisan crap that I could bomb a pharmacy 🙂

  15. I’m no Clinton fan, but I’m not going to blame him for 9/11, either. Virtually everyone was caught by surprise, because few of us believed that such an attack would ever be carried out on American soil. Also, you can spin this nine ways till Sunday, but it was also a profoundly foolish move by al Qaeda. They were operating with the world’s superpower exerting minimal effort against them. Now they’re being fought with much more effort, and two Middle Eastern nations have fallen. It was a stupid move, and that made it all the more unpredictable. Looking back, maybe the Clinton administration should’ve been more aggressive in dealing with terror threats, but that’s hindsight.

    In any event, pointing fingers is a useless exercise. Even if this is all Bill Clinton’s fault, that doesn’t help us going forward. I personally think that if we’d had a Democratic president during and after 9/11, much the same thing would’ve happened. The nation-building theory is not uniquely Republican, and the temptation to invade Iraq (or other Middle Eastern nation of your choice) would’ve still been there as would the domestic political pressure to do something. I just don’t buy the meme that GOPers are all foreign policy cowboys and Democrats are all limp-wristed internationalists. Heck, Old Man Bush did a better job of coalition building than Clinton ever did–remember Gulf War I?

    By the way, blaming Bush for 9/11 is even crazier. In the eight months his people were in office, maybe, just maybe, they figured out where the secret tunnel was between the OEOB and the White House. Maybe. Presidents rarely come into office and drop bombs the next week. Al Qaeda and our other enemies are an American problem, not a political one (domestically speaking, that is) nor one that we can lay at the feet of a particular person or political party. That goes for Iraq, too. If the Administration was over eager to attack Iraq, don’t you think the animus felt by most Americans against the Middle East had a wee bit to do with that? I’m so sick of all this partisan crap that I could bomb a pharmacy 🙂

  16. For the love of God, Montressor! For the love of God!

  17. Does anyone know what happened after Pearl Harbour. Obviously America entered the war but did any prominent military/political figures get canned because the States were caught with their pants down?

  18. Mark VII,

    They fired Admiral Kimmel who was in command at Pearle Harbor and brought in Nimitiz. Interestingly, Nimitz kept Kimmel’s intelligence staff (you would think after a suprise attack you would can the Intel guy first but Nimitz didn’t) which eventually proved to be a brilliant move becase Kimmel’s intel staff cracked the Japanese Naval code and played a huge role in the victory at Midway.

    Pearle Harbor is an interesting case. On the one hand, it supports the “there was a disaster someone must be fired” line of thinking because they canned Kimmel for the much more able Nimitz. On the other hand, Nimitz kept Kimmel’s G2 staff despite the obvious failure to warm of the inpending attack and turned out to be a brilliant move on Nimitz’s part.

  19. Pro Liberate,

    You are exactly right. Before 9-11, 9-11 was unthinkable. To expect Bush or Clinton to have forseen it, is just rediculous. As much as I love to kick around Clinton, I am not going to kick him around for 9-11.

  20. Joe,

    Good thing you are not defensive about Clinton or anything. I defend the guy and you still have a fainting fit. Is there anything that doesn’t send you into rightous indignation?

  21. joe wrote: BTW, a number of bloggers have gone through the records, and the answer to the question “Did you ever ask (anyone from the Bush administration) about the Cole?” is “No, not a single time.”

    Wallace grilled Rumsfeld here.

  22. The attempt to physically intimidate, i.e., invade the personal space of a much smaller man is clear evidence that Clinton is a coward.

  23. TWBA – good interview but he doesn’t really talk about the Cole or responsibility pre 9/11.

    Rumsfeld is an ass – he’s such a whiny bitch he has to say that he’s only responsible for things outside the states, not inside. There’s nothing worse than a Politician passing the buck.

  24. “You are exactly right. Before 9-11, 9-11 was unthinkable”

    Unthinkable? buildings and structures are designed with airplane impacts in mind. It certainly wasn’t unthinkable. I certainly discussed the possibilty before 9/11. I mistakenly assumed that there had been plans put in place to deal with such an event.

    Clancy novel.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt_of_Honor

  25. Hmmm, looks like Wallace touched a nerve there, eh Bill?

  26. BTW, a number of bloggers have gone through the records…

    I guess those bloggers haven’t discovered Google.

    CHIRS WALLACE, HOST: While the Pentagon is still busy fighting the war on terror, announcing that 2,000 Marines are on their way, and continuing to battle insurgents in Iraq, Washington was consumed this week with looking back at the events that led to 9/11. For more on all that, we turn to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

    […]

    WALLACE: I think a lot of people in Washington are trying to figure out, to understand Richard Clarke, to make sense of what he has said and of apparent contradictions in his story ? is he telling the truth, or is he pushing an agenda.

    What do you make of his basic charge that, pre-9/11, that this government, the Bush administration, largely ignored the threat from Al Qaeda?

    […]

    WALLACE: But let me follow up on that, if I can, the staff, this is what you told them in private.

    Let’s put it up here if we can: “He,” Rumsfeld, “did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11, other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system for possible use against bin Laden.” He said that, “DOD, the Department of Defense, before 9/11, was not organized or trained adequately to deal with asymmetric threats.”

    Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.

    […]

    WALLACE: But looking back, sir ? and I understand this is 20/20 hindsight ? it’s more than an individual manhunt. I mean, what you ended up doing, in the end, was going after Al Qaeda where it lived.

    RUMSFELD: Which is the only way to do it, in my view. I think you simply have to go after…

    WALLACE: And the question is, pre-9/11, should you have been thinking more about that?

    […]

    WALLACE: Clarke makes one other specific charge that I’d like to give you the opportunity to respond to here today.

    He says that on September 12th, the day after the attack, that when all of the evidence was pointing to Al Qaeda, that you wanted to hit Iraq.

    […]

    WALLACE: But specifically, if I may, sir, what he is saying is, on the afternoon of September 12th, when all of the evidence was pointing to Afghanistan, that you wanted to hit Iraq. And he compared it to attacking Mexico after the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor.

    I guess Chris Wallace can be tough with a Republican.

    …but he doesn’t really talk about the Cole…

    I don’t think it’s necessary to find him asking that exact question including the reference to the Cole, since Bush took office after the Cole was hit. Clinton seems to be upset that he is being asked why he didn’t do more to capture or kill bin Laden and break up al Qaeda. Clinton thinks that Faux News doesn’t ask anyone in the Bush administration why they didn’t do more to kill or capture bin Laden and break up al Qaeda before 9/11.

  27. Agreed Twba – looks like Wallace can give the Right a bit of stick too. I think it’s a case of relatives though. Look at how he poses the first question to Rumsfeld:

    I know as secretary of defense that you’re responsible for external threats, not an attack within the United States. But I wonder, do you think it would be appropriate for someone in the administration, from the president on down, to consider making a similar

    He adds in the initial qualifier which Rumsfled uses as his main defence through the argument and then says, to a sitting Secretary of Defense that he might consider making an ‘apology’ as opposed to ‘you are responsible’.

    Sure, he does give Rumsfeld a couple of dirsct questions but they’re pretty obvious jabs whereas he’s a little more direct with Clinton’ only he uses the crappy excuse of ’emails from readers’.

    Still, Clinton’s fault. He’s as defensive as teenager caught masturbating by his parents (this probably happened to him).

  28. John,

    “I defend the guy and you still have a fainting fit.” That’s funny, I thought I was a partisan.

    “Is there anything that doesn’t send you into rightous indignation?” Accurate, fair, truthful statements.

    Twba,

    Thanks for the link. Nothing about the Cole in there.

    Which was the question that Clinton repeatedly asked Wallace – Did you ask them about the Cole? – which Wallace refused to answer – We’ve asked lotsa questions.

  29. The interesting thing about the interview was not the discussion of what Clinton did or did not do to bin Laden. That topic has, by now, be hashed, rehashed, and re-rehashed. The interesting thing was the dynamic of the inverview itself.

    From the first question, it was obvious that Wallace was trying to sandbag Clinton. His very first question implied that Clinton’s philantrophic work stemmed from some sort of misguided fear of death. After Clinton shot Wallace down on that front, Wallace then proceeded to the terrorism policies.

    Wallace asked Clinton a 45-second, 26-part, rambling “question” that was nothing but a laundry list of allegations. Apparently, Wallace was expecting Clinton to whimper and curl up in a fetal position under the weight of Wallace’s whithering interrogation. When Clinton had the audacity to actually answer, Wallace decided he didn’t want his viewers to actually hear the answer, and he pretended that he hadn’t asked the question. Wallace’s stammering backtracks provided Clinton the perfect opportunity to steamroll Wallace and stick a shiv into Fox News.

    In the end, Wallace learned a very important lesson. He is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. And he’s not even close to being half as smart as Bill Clinton.

    Perhaps Wallace should stick to interviewing the likes of Paris Hilton.

  30. “Hmmm, looks like Wallace touched a nerve there, eh Bill?”

    Yeah, seriously. What kind of wimp displays anger when unfairly accused of negligently allowing the murder of thousands of citizens during his term in office?

    Maaaaaaan, that Clinton’s crazy.

  31. joe,
    In your opinion, have there ever been ANY mistakes made by a sitting President from the Democrat Party?

    You are a riot when you do that “drunk on DNC Talking Points” lampshade dance, bro!

    If we could just get you to tag the Democrats the way you take the Republicans to task, you’d practically be a libertarian!

  32. From the first question, it was obvious that Wallace was trying to sandbag Clinton. His very first question implied that Clinton’s philantrophic work stemmed from some sort of misguided fear of death.

    I think you’re right Duck. I think he really betrays how angry he is when he points out that he’s on there because Fox are taking hits because of Murdoch’s enviromental support. It would be one thing if Clinton says ‘Fuck you, you guys are wrong’ but what he says is ‘Fuck you, you guys are worng, and also, by the way, fuck your network’.

  33. WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

    [blah, blah, blah]

    CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

    That’s the first question Bill wants to know if Fox has asked of anyone in the Bush administration. It does no good to act as if the question must reference the Cole. He just wants to know if the Bushies have been asked if they did enough prior to 9/11.

    Clinton then goes on to say:

    I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, “Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?”

    I want to know how many you asked, “Why did you fire Dick Clarke?”

    Bill ends up asking about three potential questions of the Bush administration before Wallace cuts him off.

  34. Twba – That’d work GREAT if it had been an interview about the Bush administration. Heck, I’D like to have those questions asked of the administration. But it wasn’t. It was an interview with Bill Clinton about HIS administration.

    Basic Public Relations 101: Getting pissy because you’re being asked questions you think are “too hard” or “too tough” just makes you look like you’re scared to answer them.

  35. It brings to mind that wonderful old saying “If you can’t stand the heat…”

  36. Tools Bush has to catch OBL that Clinton did not.

    1. Virtually unlimited budget.
    2. AUF from Congress to wage war on OBL?s host country.
    3. The entire US Military. (as approved by the AUF)
    4. New rules and laws for anti-terror intelligence operations..
    5. A more focused Congress (they were more concerned about whitewater and interns with Clinton)
    6. The post 9/11 mindset.

    Clinton was limited with what he could do. Bush is not. Bush had the Congressional approval to send as many troops into Afghanistan as he wanted. The same can not be said about Sudan.

    Clinton?s failure to catch OBL does not come close to Bush’s failure.

    Let?s see Fox News run that story.

  37. “I think Clinton is about 5’9″”

    Bill Clinton is 6 feet 2 inches tall.

  38. John, rob,

    Let me explain why I think this is important; and no, it’s not just partisan sniping at the Republicans, as noble a cause as that might be.

    When Bush came into office, he significantly downgraded anti-terrorism in favor of traditional concerns about inter-state conflicts and military vs. military confrontations. He demoted Richard Clarke, excluding him from cabinet meetings, while naming a Sovietologist (Rice) as his National Security Advisor. He proceeded to focus his diplomatic and national security efforts on Great Power jousting with China and, to a lesser extent, the EU, while ignoring terror-related issues like the Middle East peace process and developing assets in Africa. When warned that “Bin Laden (was) Determined to Strike in US” in his August 6 Presidential Daily Briefing, he snapped at the CIA briefer, “OK, you’ve covered your ass,” then went on vacation for a month.

    Even after September 11, an attack by international, stateless terrorists that required no more operational and economic capacity than a modest 501c3, he continued down this path. He began hatching plans to invade Iraq and overthrow its government, despite knowing that they had no invovlement in 9/11. He increased spending on the anti-ICBM program. Even in Afghanistan, he treated the overthrow of the Taliban government as much more important that the actual fight against the bin Ladenists – when we had to hire a Taliban allied warlord to guard the back door at Tora Bora, there were 30,000 American troops garrisoning Kabul. And, of course, he pulled resources out of Afghanistan in order to start the war against Iraqm, because a hostile government that never engaged in terrorism against our country was presumed to be much more important than the group of internationally terrorists who attacked us. Even as the French and Germans provided us with invaluable assistance against the terrorists – joint patrols with the French in the Red Sea, close coordination between intelligence services – the President and his backers denounced them as our enemies, or something close to it, for not joining in the War against the Iraqi government. The budget for Nunn-Lugar (the program to secure loose Soviet nukes) as slashed, the Special Forces were not expanded for years, and the recommendations of the 9/11 commission to secure our port facilities against nukes were never implemented, but the F-22 program, which will increase the air superiority of our fighters from being one order of magnitude greater than any foreign military to two orders of magnitude, is as strong as ever.

    In Iraq itself, this same failure of intellect can be found. They didn’t plan for the post-war, because the defeat of that state’s military and the toppling of its government was presumed to be “Mission Accomplished” – a presumption that, as I’m sure you can finally admit, has (predictably) worsened the threat of terrorism from that country..

    The false equivalency of “Clinton and Bush both didn’t do enough” sweeps this important philosophical and operational distinction under the rug. It’s important to me that we not allow that to happen, because this same failure to understand the security environment persists.

    The reason I’m defending the Democratic president, and assailing the Republican, on the issue of anti-terrorism is because the Democratic president understood what the problem and acted on it, and the Republican misunderstands it.

  39. Feb 26, 1993 came before Sep 11, 2001. IMO, that depletes the suprise factor just a little. The death toll on 2/26 could have been many times greater than 9/11, had the bomb had a little more umph. As it was, it killed 6 people and blew a 30 meter hole through four sections of concrete. At least, thank Clinton, we caught the financier, Khaled Shaikh Mohammed.

  40. “He began hatching plans to invade Iraq and overthrow its government, despite knowing that they had no invovlement in 9/11.”

    He didn’t invade Iraq until March of 2003 after a year of wrangling with the UN. Take that one back KOS land.

    “He increased spending on the anti-ICBM program.”

    Gee 9-11 (a terrorist attack sponsored a rogue state of religious lunatics didn’t do anything raise the need to stop a rogue missile attack) In addition, he increased spending in a lot of other areas too, like education and all sorts of other unrelated things. Is it your position that every dime not spent on anti-terrorism is in direct detriment to anti-terrorism.

    “Even in Afghanistan, he treated the overthrow of the Taliban government as much more important that the actual fight against the bin Ladenists”

    WTF? The Taliban were the Bin Ladinists. Do you honestly expect people to believe that Bush should have not overthrown the Taliban and should have instead concentrated on the fight against the “bin ladinists”? Whatever the hell that means. Joe you need to take your meds today.

    As far as your rants on Iraq, I am not going to let this thread get high jacked into that discussion.

    Yes, Joe you are a partisan hack. Not that there is anything wrong with that, hell I am one to on a lot of things. But do not insult our intelligence by pretending that you are not or pretending that Clinton (a President who cut and run from Somalia, did nothing after the first WTC bombings, did nothing after Kobar Towers, did nothing after the embassy bombings except send a few harmless cruise missiles at some tents in Afghanistan and a legitimate factory by mistake in the Sudan and did nothing after the Cole bombing) had this sterling record on terrorism. To claim he did, doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Like I said, Joe, take your thorazine today. You really need it.

  41. “The reason I’m defending the Democratic president, and assailing the Republican, on the issue of anti-terrorism is because the Democratic president understood what the problem and acted on it, and the Republican misunderstands it.” – joe

    It’s tough for me to go along with this line of logic, because a whole SLEW of terrorist attacks happened during Clinton’s watch. After the WTC bombing, and all the other examples he diddly squat. To claim that he did something would be like claiming that he did the right thing in Somalia. He gets an “F-” on both, from a military AND a foreign relations perspective. While I won’t say that I think the Bush administration hasn’t made its share of mistakes, I really don’t see how things would have been better (or appreciably worse, really, for that matter) under a Democrat.

    That you are unable to admit that there are even grounds to criticize the Clinton administration, while dropping the hammer on the Bush administration, just makes you look like a partisan hack.

    But I don’t see a real reason to get testy, since you do such a good job of undermining yourself in the same sentence you attempt to vindicate yourself in: “it’s not just partisan sniping at the Republicans, as noble a cause as that might be.”

    Partisan sniping isn’t noble, it’s just sloppy thinking. There’s plenty to complain about in the current administration, true, so just be glad that the current administration isn’t on your team or you’d be defending EXACTLY the same things you currently rail against.

  42. “He began hatching plans to invade Iraq and overthrow its government, despite knowing that they had no invovlement in 9/11.”

    is not contradicted by

    “He didn’t invade Iraq until March of 2003 after a year of wrangling with the UN.”

    We have the testimony of people in the White House, and the documentary evidence, demonstrating that the administration began developing war plans for Iraq in the Fall/Winter of 2001.

    “Gee 9-11 (a terrorist attack sponsored a rogue state of religious lunatics didn’t do anything raise the need to stop a rogue missile attack)” No, it didn’t. The chance of a state launching an intercontinental missile at us did not change one whit because of September 11.

    “In addition, he increased spending in a lot of other areas too, like education and all sorts of other unrelated things.” Yes, but he didn’t spend more on education as a strategy to improve our national security. Faced with the reality of 9/11, the administration drew up defense budgets to confront the threats we faced.

    “Is it your position that every dime not spent on anti-terrorism is in direct detriment to anti-terrorism.” It is my position that the post-9/11 changes to the defense budget demonstrate the effect of 9/11 on the administration’s beliefs and priorities of the administration in the area of national security and defense.

    “WTF? The Taliban were the Bin Ladinists.” Not even you are stupid enough to be confused about the distinction I was drawing between the operations of the Taliban government, and the terrorist training camps and other Al Qaeda facilities and personnel that we sought to destroy. It’s not a good sign when you have to play dumb.

    “Do you honestly expect people to believe that Bush should have not overthrown the Taliban and should have instead concentrated on the fight against the “bin ladinists”?” No, but I expect them to believe the point I actually made – that of the two goals in Afghanistan (regime change and the destruction of Al Qaeda), the former was given greater emphasis than the latter.

    I couldn’t help but notice that, for all your spittle-flecked assertions and misrepresentations of my positions, you couldn’t find a single factual statement I made to disagree with, John. Nor could you muster any arguments or evidence to support an alternate interpretation of the facts I presented.

    But hey, jokes about psychiatric medications. That’s pretty persuasive.

  43. JOe,

    Rob said it perfectly. You are constitutionally incapable of criticizing Clinton about this issue. His record has some huge flaws and he pretty much gets an F. Truth is there are some pretty good mitigating circumstances for the “f”, namely a disinterested and unsupportive American public, but it is an “F” nonetheless.

  44. BTW,

    Your assertions, especially the one about “concentraiting on the Taliban” are so rediculous that they really don’t warrent a response other than “take your thorazine.”, which is disapointing since your responses on other subjects, while flawed ussually do.

  45. rob,

    “After the WTC bombing, and all the other examples he diddly squat.” As a matter fact, he did not. He ordered the CIA to “got to war” against bin Laden, created specialized teams devoted to finding and destroying Al Qaeda, elevated Richard Clark’s position (Director of Counter-terrorism) to the cabinet, launched a military attack on Al Qaeda sites, and had a global counter-terrorism strategy drawn up.

    “To claim that he did something would be like claiming that he did the right thing in Somalia.” Actually, he kept our forces in Somalia for six months after Mogadishu, resisting calls from the Republican Congress (and just about everyone else) to withdraw immediately, partly out of concern for the Somalis, and partly to avoid the appearance of a retreat under fire. Whether this is the “right thing” or not is debateable, but from the perspective of not emboldening America’s enemies, he gets much higher marks than those (Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay) who were calling for immediate retreat.

    “That you are unable to admit that there are even grounds to criticize the Clinton administration…” There are grounds to criticize the administration; ignoring Dick Morris’s advice to make anti-terrorism a major initiative, treating it as a job to assign to the bureacracy, failing to improve communication between intelligence and law enforcement, or putting too much emphasis on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and worrying too much about harming it by offending Muslim countries through highly visible anti-terror efforts are all, arguably, flaws in his handling of counterterrorism. You could even argue that holding off on attacking Al Qaeda until the FBI and CIA could confirm their involvement (the old Democratic habit of making sure we’re punishing the right people) was a shortcoming of Clinton’s.

    But the assertion that he simply didn’t do anything, that, like George Bush, he simply wasn’t paying attention to the problem, is demonstrably false.

    Like John, if you’d care to refute any of the factual statements I’ve made, or present reasons that my interpretation of those facts is misguided, have at it. But it looks more like you’re arguing that I must be wrong, that Clinton was asleep at the switch just like Bush, on the grounds that Bill Clinton and I are Democrats. Which is not terribly convincing.

  46. John,

    “You are constitutionally incapable of criticizing Clinton about this issue.”

    Ooh, dontcha hate it when a comment that proves you wrong appears, and the time stamp shows that that it couldn’t have been written in response to your own comment?

    “Truth is there are some pretty good mitigating circumstances for the “f”, namely a disinterested and unsupportive American public…”

    I don’t think that’s true, either. I’m with Dick Morriss on this. Clinton got majority support for going to war against Serbia, Bush Senior for going to war agaisnt Panama, and Reagan for going to war against Grenada, each of which had never tossed so much as a spitball at our country. To gear up America in the 1990s to fight the bad guys in “True Lies” would have been even easier, with the WTC, embassy bombings, and other attacks they’d carried out on us. As I wrote above (once again, before having had the chance to read your contradictory comment), I think he chose not to, and to keep counter-terrorism quietly within the national security apparatus, in order to avoid derailing the Peace Process.

    Rather than being a tough sell, I think a muscular anti-terror policy would have been a political winner.

    ‘Your assertions, especially the one about “concentraiting on the Taliban” are so rediculous that they really don’t warrent a response other than “take your thorazine.”,’

    You remember in the Breakfast Club, when Emilio Estevez smacked Judd Nelson’s head into the floor?

    “I really don’t want to get into this with you, man?

    “Why not?”

    “Cause I’d kill you. I’d kill you, and your fucking parents would sue me, and it would be a big mess, and I don’t have time for that.”

    Yup, the factual statements I made about military priorities are just beneath you. That’s why you won’t respond to them.

    Keep walking, tough guy.

  47. rob writes: “Basic Public Relations 101: Getting pissy because you’re being asked questions you think are “too hard” or “too tough” just makes you look like you’re scared to answer them.”

    Well, actually, he got pissy because Wallace had lied about the structure of the interview and leapt right into an attack meant to help Bush by passing the buck for Bush’s failures.

  48. “””WTF? The Taliban were the Bin Ladinists.””””

    I’m not sure what a Bin Ladinists is. I assume we are talking about AQ, which the Taliban were not members. They were the ruling government of Afghanistan and were allowing AQ to exist and operate within Afghanistan. That alone makes them fair game.

    To claim Taliban = AQ would be incorrect.
    It’s more like Taliban = AQ supporters.
    That’s good enough to remove them from power, as we did.

    I’m a NY Yankees supporter but by no means am I a memeber of the team. I pretty sure I’m called a fan, not a Yankeeist.

    I’m no supporter of the Clintons, but anyone is full of crap if they think they know everything Clinton did regarding anti-terror. Much of it is classified and we will never know. Same thing goes for Bush I and Bush II. We can state the obvious. OBL is still at large.

    The question is what do we have to do to get him. I know some will want to comment about what we have not done, that is NOT my question.

    To argue about the past is a great way to keep the powers that be unaccountable for the present.

    As far as 9/11, I would argue a good plan, well executed, has great chances of success. Doesn’t matter who is in the Whitehouse.

  49. “As a matter fact, he did not. He ordered the CIA to ‘got to war’against bin Laden, created specialized teams devoted to finding and destroying Al Qaeda, elevated Richard Clark’s position (Director of Counter-terrorism) to the cabinet, launched a military attack on Al Qaeda sites, and had a global counter-terrorism strategy drawn up.” – joe

    AKA “diddly squat.” I’ve been on bake sale committees that were more effective at fighting terror AND selling cookies.

    Hey, you point out where they went wrong pretty well, in fact:

    “ignoring Dick Morris’s advice to make anti-terrorism a major initiative, treating it as a job to assign to the bureacracy, failing to improve communication between intelligence and law enforcement, or putting too much emphasis on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and worrying too much about harming it by offending Muslim countries through highly visible anti-terror efforts are all, arguably, flaws in his handling of counterterrorism. You could even argue that holding off on attacking Al Qaeda until the FBI and CIA could confirm their involvement (the old Democratic habit of making sure we’re punishing the right people) was a shortcoming of Clinton’s.”

    Bringing up Somalia as an example of Clinton doing the right thing is just pathetic, joe, and your example is pretty egregiously foul:

    “Actually, he kept our forces in Somalia for six months after Mogadishu, resisting calls from the Republican Congress (and just about everyone else) to withdraw immediately, partly out of concern for the Somalis, and partly to avoid the appearance of a retreat under fire. Whether this is the ‘right thing’ or not is debateable,” – joe

    Why is it foul? Because it really is not debatable as to whether it was the “right thing.” He did the wrong thing from start to finish. That’s because Clinton’s the guy who sent U.S. troops there, declined to give them adequate firepower and then LEFT them there, STILL without adequate firepower. It’s either worth doing or it’s not. If you lose troops, it should be because what you’re doing is worth putting those lives at risk.

    Immediately after his Presidency, Clinton used to say Somalia was the thing he regretted most. Now, post-9/11, he’s out there claiming that he most regrets not taking out bin Laden. I’m sure before Somalia, it was getting caught with an intern. The guy is only filled with regret when he’s caught explicitly doing the wrong thing. Frankly, he gets a total pass from me on the intern, and even lying about it.

    “but from the perspective of not emboldening America’s enemies, he gets much higher marks than those (Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay) who were calling for immediate retreat.”

    True that. So he gets an “B” in strategic retreat, but an “F-” for Somalia overall, and a tour of Hades for putting troops in harm’s way and leaving them there without adequate firepower – tanks and AC-130 gunships.

    (http://www.eddriscoll.com/archives/006766.php)

    “There are grounds to criticize the administration…”

    joe, you are well and truly hitting a lick now!

    “But the assertion that he simply didn’t do anything, that, like George Bush, he simply wasn’t paying attention to the problem, is demonstrably false.” – joe

    No, it’s not false, and you yourself pointed out the failings. You’ve had a moment of clarity, bro, try to hold onto it. Here’s a refresher:

    “ignoring Dick Morris’s advice to make anti-terrorism a major initiative, treating it as a job to assign to the bureacracy, failing to improve communication between intelligence and law enforcement, or putting too much emphasis on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and worrying too much about harming it by offending Muslim countries through highly visible anti-terror efforts are all, arguably, flaws in his handling of counterterrorism. You could even argue that holding off on attacking Al Qaeda until the FBI and CIA could confirm their involvement (the old Democratic habit of making sure we’re punishing the right people) was a shortcoming of Clinton’s.”

    “Like John, if you’d care to refute any of the factual statements I’ve made, or present reasons that my interpretation of those facts is misguided, have at it.” – joe

    Please feel free to read the above.

    “But it looks more like you’re arguing that I must be wrong, that Clinton was asleep at the switch just like Bush, on the grounds that Bill Clinton and I are Democrats. Which is not terribly convincing.” – joe

    No, I’m just pointing out that you’ll defend the guy even when you KNOW he was asleep at the switch and can articulate it very well. You’re suffering from cognitive dissonance, because you are feeling “the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation” that you are even able to point out yourself.

    It’s OK, man, it’s going to be alright. Eventually you’ll figure out that it’s OK to be pissed off at ALL politicians, even the ones who are lying to your face when they tell you that they’re on YOUR side.

  50. “Well, actually, he got pissy because Wallace had lied about the structure of the interview and leapt right into an attack meant to help Bush by passing the buck for Bush’s failures.”

    Doesn’t change the fact that he should have been able to handle those questions – questions PLENTY of people have wanted to ask the guy and he should certainly know that from watching TV – without getting offended and whiny.

    Any time a politician takes offense at a question that is NOT a rhetorical trick, it’s a good sign that he should be required by law to answer it – UNDER OATH. Rhetorical trick questions, tho, should get a reporter fired. That’s not what Wallace did. Anyone who DOESN’T want to see current and former presidents being fairly but harshly questioned is afraid that “their guy” will come off looking bad.

    Frankly, I’d think the Bush supporters would have more to fear on this than the Clinton supporters, but to hear the outrage that a reporter dared to ask the question? From the Democrats who claim to be staunch defenders of the freedom of the press? Puh-leeze!

  51. rob,

    “AKA “diddly squat.” I’ve been on bake sale committees that were more effective at fighting terror AND selling cookies.” That’s arguable. I guess we can all say that it wasn’t enough. But I did not describe Clinton’s initiatives to present them as the model of an effective anti-terror strategy; I present them to refute your assertion that Clinton had treated terrorism as a low priority, comparable to the way Bush handled it before 9/11. He did quite a bit more, as the complete absence of anti-terror initiatives, and a policy of scaling them back from Clinton levels, characterized the first months of Bush’s term.

    “Bringing up Somalia as an example of Clinton doing the right thing is just pathetic” Straw man #2. I didn’t bring Somalia as a feather in Clinton’s cap, but to deflate the assertion that he “cut and run” from Somalia. In fact, he stuck it out longer than the Republicans wanted him too.

    “That’s because Clinton’s the guy who sent U.S. troops there (to Somalia), declined to give them adequate firepower…” No, he wasn’t. That was George Bush. Clinton inhereted Somalia from him. You can look it up.

    “Immediately after his Presidency, Clinton used to say Somalia was the thing he regretted most. Now, post-9/11, he’s out there claiming that he most regrets not taking out bin Laden. I’m sure before Somalia, it was getting caught with an intern.” I’m actually starting to feel embarassed for you now. Clinton had been caught with the intern prior to “immediately after his presidency.” WTF?

    “but an “F-” for Somalia overall,” Maybe this should be amended, in light of the facts you misunderstood about the war’s provenance?

    “…and a tour of Hades for putting troops in harm’s way and leaving them there without adequate firepower – tanks and AC-130 gunships.” A fair shot. Clinton and his team were not terribly adept with the Commander in Chief power in the early part of his presidency. That’s probably why he appointed a Republican as SecDef.

    “No, it’s not false, and you yourself pointed out the failings.” No, rob, you don’t get it. Clinton’s efforts to fight terrorism had serious shortcomings. Bush didn’t have an effort to fight terrorism. He blew it off, because he didn’t think it was important, because he had other priorities. It’s the difference between a Good Samitan who performs CPR amateuruishly, and one who walks by the victim.

    “Please feel free to read the above.” You never gainsaid a single fact I reported, you reported several incorrect ones yourself, and offered nothing except invective, not facts of logic, to refuts my interpretation of events.

    “No, I’m just pointing out that you’ll defend the guy even when you KNOW he was asleep at the switch and can articulate it very well.” You got me there; I defend someone against charges that are irreconcilable with know facts, AND THEN I’ll turn around and make other charges, ones that are based on facts and logic. Wow, my credibility must be totally shot by now.

    “It’s OK, man, it’s going to be alright. Eventually you’ll figure out that it’s OK to be pissed off at ALL politicians, even the ones who are lying to your face when they tell you that they’re on YOUR side.” Wow, you’re little Fonzi immitation almost made me forget that you can’t defend your argument with facts or logic, or even mount a respectable rebuttal to mine.

    “Doesn’t change the fact that he should have been able to handle those questions” Actually, he handled himself fairly well; this is being broadly reported as a shellacking for Wallace. For someone who’s allegedly afraid to be asked that question, he certainly had very little difficulty knocking it out of the park.

  52. “No, he wasn’t. That was George Bush. Clinton inhereted Somalia from him. You can look it up.” – joe

    Actually, Clinton was the guy who inherited a success – an operation he had DECLARED a success – and turned it into a fiasco:

    “President Bush the Elder sent U.S. forces into Somalia in December 1992 to aid the United Nations in relieving a massive famine. In May of 1993, four months into his term, President Clinton declared that mission accomplished and pulled out most of the U.S. force. In a speech on the South Lawn to associate himself with the effort, he extolled the decision to intervene: ‘If all of you who served had not gone, it is absolutely certain that tens of thousands would have died by now.’ It was a ‘successful mission,’ he said, and “proved yet again that American leadership can help to mobilize international action.’

    But back in Somalia, with no U.S. deterrent, Somalia’s warlords began fighting again. After a series of bloody attacks on U.N. peacekeepers, Mr. Clinton launched a new mission: In August 1993, he sent in a force of Rangers and Special Forces units to capture the brutal warlord Mohammad Farrah Aidid and restore order.

    That force asked for heavy armor–in the form of Abrams tanks and Bradley armored vehicles–as well as the AC-130 gunship, but the Clinton Administration denied those requests. On October 3 on a mission to pick up Aidid, two Black Hawks were unexpectedly shot down; in the ensuing urban gun battle, 18 American soldiers were killed and another 73 injured.”

    From http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110002091

    This guy explains it better:

    “Clinton’s Somalia Fiasco”–Ranger’s letter to
    Wall Street Journal

    President Clinton may be forgiven for his latest attempt at legacy maintenance, recounted in your editorial on his comments regarding Somalia (“Clinton’s Black Hawk History,” Aug. 6). After all, his reality is defined by his desperate need to be a “Great Man.” So, he sees the failure and deceit of the past as strength.
    What amazes me, however, is that Mr. Clinton appears to remember little and regret less about that terrible, pointless day in Mogadishu nine years ago.
    I will never forget what so many of my friends and comrades did that day, and what too many gave up. I will always regret how, with the enemy on the run and at such terrible cost, we were prevented from re-arming, kitting up and finishing the task. Mr. Clinton, by contrast, has forgotten, and regrets nothing. As with all else, Somalia was someone else’s mess.
    John Belman
    Member, Task Force Rangers, Somalia
    Ann Arbor, Mich.”

    “I’m actually starting to feel embarassed for you now. Clinton had been caught with the intern prior to ‘immediately after his presidency.’ WTF?”

    Dude, re-read what I posted. It’s in revers order, walking you back through what Clinton claimed were his biggest regrets. These days it’s not getting bin Laden, before that it was Somalia, before that it was the intern. What about that timeline is confusing to you? Should I run it forward? Intern, Somalia, bin Laden. Does that make more sense to you?

    “No, rob, you don’t get it. Clinton’s efforts to fight terrorism had serious shortcomings. Bush didn’t have an effort to fight terrorism. He blew it off, because he didn’t think it was important, because he had other priorities. It’s the difference between a Good Samitan who performs CPR amateuruishly, and one who walks by the victim.” – joe

    Uh, no, it’s more like a guy who purposefully lets someone be run over after repeated evidence that the guy is going to be run over and a guy who doesn’t realize that someone is going to be run over. Bush clueless? Totally. Clinton asleep at the switch? Totally.

    I can honestly say that no one has ever compared me to Henry Winkler before. That was clever, but I was going more for Dr. Phil – because you were so close to a breakthrough there, but then you retreated back to bashing one side and excusing the other. ONe day you’re going to figure out that both sides suck.

  53. “For someone who’s allegedly afraid to be asked that question, he certainly had very little difficulty knocking it out of the park.” – joe

    Almost missed that last bit. I saw the clip. It looked like a guy with a lot of “guilt demons” riding him, who hadn’t expected to have to face them because he’s a former president and usually gets nothing but softballs. I guess we all see what we want to.

    I say taht because just like you see a guy avenging what you think is a mischarecterization of Clinton’s presidency, I hope the guy is human enough to miss a night’s sleep now and then over the lives his bungling of Somalia, the embassy bombings, the WTC bombing, Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc. and Islamic international terrorism in general, have caused.

    That’s because I identify more with Clinton than with Bush and I don’t think that Bush, tho his laundry list of scre-ups will be at least as long, will ever lose any sleep over any issue of his presidency. He strieks me as too much of a true believer to feel the same sense of fallibility.

  54. rob, the eddriscoll link is interesting. I’d go along with most of it since I like to pile on WJC, “the greatest president we ever had”. But I disagree with he notion Somalia was THE negative turning point for the wide world of terrorism. Of all the major misteps in modern history that gave the “militants”, enemies, whatever, cause to thump their chests, I’d say the first really bad one was during the hostage crisis in 1979. As I recall (was only 8-9 yrs old back then) we only made one botched attempt at a military rescue in over a full year of the crisis. Maybe I was a chicken hawk back then too, but I’d say such an act constituted an act of war and should have been treated as such, with blockades, warships, planes, tanks, etc – even if just for “diplomacy”. I’d even fault Reagan a bit, since he could have acted militarily when the dirty deed was still fresh. It would be hard to image too much global criticism from our allies. Next on my personal list would be the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon and our hasty departure. Then the WTC bombing of 1993. A tiny black mark for Somalia. And, of course, 9/11.

  55. What that interview goes to prove is what a paranoid, whiny, little bitch Clinton is. The man did not have the temperment to be president.

  56. rob,

    I already knew all of that about Somalia, and none of it is relevant to the point in question.

    But, hey, Clinton bashing!

    “I saw the clip.”

    I saw the entire interview. Wallace thought he was gong to ambush Clinton, and Clinton turned his swift boat into the fire and blasted the shit out of him. Silly little man.

  57. “”””I hope the guy is human enough to miss a night’s sleep now and then over the lives his bungling of Somalia, the embassy bombings, the WTC bombing, Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc. and Islamic international terrorism in general, have caused.””””

    So I take it you blame Bush for 9/11? If Clinton was at fault or “bungled” the WTC bombing then blaming Bush for 9/11 would be fair game. I disagree on both.

    Neither had a direct hand in the ability to prevent either attack. Now Ruby Ridge and Waco are a little different, but those are FBI issues which the President does not micro-manage. It is fair game in that the president does have some control over them. The same can not be said about terrorism.

    Personally I don’t think either was at fault. Could they have done better? Sure, that’s what hindsight is good for. All of us could do better at everything. We are not perfect.

    I don’t blame Bush when he screws up, I blame him when he fails to learn from his screw ups. Everyone makes mistakes.

  58. Frankly, every time I see a clip of Clinton’s responses I see a petulant immature prick. I really though he was smoother than that.

  59. “I saw the entire interview. Wallace thought he was gong to ambush Clinton, and Clinton turned his swift boat into the fire and blasted the shit out of him. Silly little man.” – joe

    DUDE. Kerry was the guy on the swift boat. You need to keep your Democrats straight. Clinton DODGED the Veitnam war and protested it. Kerry FOUGHT (briefly, admittedly) then protested it on the Congressional record using a bunch of undocumented, unsourced claims of atrocities.

    It’s like somoene talking about how George W. Bush bailed out of his fighter and won the DFC for it. But he didn’t because that was his Dad, George H.W. Bush. Bush II was busy laying up in Nat’l Guard status.

    Maybe the rest of the interview, Clinton comes off better. But in those moments? He looks like a guy who just got asked something he never thought anyone would have the balls to ask him and was fairly comfortable that he’d never have to answer for the things he failed to do.

    As for dismissing everything I’ve pointed out to you, including refuting your point about how Somalia was really Bush Senior’s fault, what WAS the point you were trying to make to do damage control on Clinton’s legacy? And why bother? the guy sucked, most presidents do. Sorry to be the guy to break your bubble, but Democratic presidents suck too. I know it’s like learning the Easter Bunny is just make-believe. Or that JFK, tho charismatic, was a pretty piss-poor president and was followed by a guy who was even worse. It’s tough to let go of the myths, but trust me, once you do your vision will become much clearer.

    Or as Jude sings it:

    “Charlie’s says nobody’s got the strange and hidden power and
    No one is really beautiful
    They’re all just mediocre men of the hour
    They’re all just mediocre jokers of the hour”

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